Safety programs are designed to prevent injuries from occurring.  Yet, no matter how detailed the program is, sometimes an injury may occur.  When an injury does occur, the Owner/Operator is presented with an opportunity to learn from this injury and prevent similar ones from happening again.  Reducing the chances for a similar type of injury, however, requires a root cause analysis.  The root cause analysis, along with effective corrective action, will lead to improved preventative measures for injuries.  How does the Owner/Operator accomplish these two items?  (read more below)

Root Cause Analysis

When performing an accident investigation, it is important to look beyond the circumstances of the immediate injury. When conducting a root cause analysis, be sure to address the following:

  1. Training – Was the employee properly trained to perform the task?
  2. Supervisors – Were the supervisors enforcing safety rules?
  3. Time of Day – Helps to identify trends more easily.
  4. Experience – Was the employee experienced in this task?
  5. Equipment – Was the employee using the proper equipment for the task (such as the guarded grill scrapers)?
  6. Personal Protective Equipment – Was the employee wearing required personal protective equipment?
  7. Conditions – Staffing – Were conditions different that day?  Was the shift properly staffed?  Was work heavier than normal? 
  8. Conditions – Environment – Was the equipment functioning properly?  Were the floors wet?  Were materials stacked in employee traffic areas? 
  • Keep asking the “Who, What, Where, Why and When”, until you get a specific cause or reason.

Corrective Action

Many times corrective actions are vague. It maybe listed as ‘employee was reminded of proper procedure’ or ‘employee was retrained.’  Although training and enforcement of procedures are important, they may not adequately address the underlying causes of the injury.  Corrective action should not just be a spot correction, but a complete approach to ensure that an injury does not happen again.  For example:

  • Slip and Fall – Verify effectiveness of floor cleaning.  Perform spot checks on all employees to verify they are wearing slip resistant shoes.  Check the condition of mops, deck brushes, and other equipment.  Perform more thorough cleanings around the fryer.  Have mats been considered in areas where the floor is expected to be wet (such as sinks and dishwasher areas)?
  • Strains – Where are heavy items located (they should be on middle shelves)?  Are inspections made to verify heavy items are located on middle shelves?  Do employees use two person lifts on heavy items?  Are the travel paths (such as for Iced Tea) clear?  Are employees lifting correctly?
  • Burns – Is proper personal protective equipment available?  Are employees trained on protective equipment use?  Are employees trained on fryer procedures, and are the procedures being followed?  Do supervisors enforce rules? 

When identified, actions should be taken on any and all of the causes identified.

Also – remember to investigate all incidents – not just the injuries where formal medical treatment is needed.    If an employee slips but does not injury himself, an investigation should be conducted.  Follow full investigation procedures and correct a problem before it leads to medical treatment.  This will ultimately have an impact your bottom line !

Once proper corrective action is identified and implemented, it should be shared and communicated.  Sharing the information will prevent a reoccurrence.  The goal of every investigation program should be to ensure similar injuries never happen again.